Interaction design is changing as a response to new social, technological, and environmental contexts, which bring new scopes of complexity into the frame interaction designers are concerned with. These changes demand that established ways of designing are in need of revision, because failing to do so will inevitably lead us to reinforce established ways of designing.
This thesis is a proposal of how to shift our attention from ‘what we design’ to ‘how we design’ through critical inquiry into designing itself. By using experiments as a means and facilitator of communication, I have been able to open up tensions between what designing is and what designing is becoming which inform our ways of doing. I have utilised probes to prompt fellow interaction designers to submit their vision to critical inquiry and experimented with physical experiences to facilitate awareness of embedded behaviours and thought patterns. I have designed reflection cards to drive critical inquiry of interaction design, and an exhibition that allowed visitors to physically shed light on what they might not be reflecting upon. Through my experiments, I have been able to design the constellations in which the underlying became visible and tangible in ways that mere conversation cannot.
Through a programmatic design research approach, this thesis work has been a journey of shedding light on the design program that embeds the relation to established and emergent design ideals, and experimenting with ways to make the tensions between the established and emerging visible and conversational. In the process of carrying out this thesis, I have identified that the tensions between established and unfolding design ideals are often taken for granted within current design practices. For this reason, I have designed a set of guidelines to help interaction designers open up to underlying interaction design ideals.
Through my work, it became visible that established structures and relations within design obstruct designers from thinking beyond solutions and seamlessness. It became visible that the tensions that fiction, uncertainty and problem-framing approaches create within our current ways of doing are rarely conversational, and therefore revision of prominent ways of doing is lacking.
In this thesis, I am proposing an alternative design program that pushes designers to subject their practices to critical dissemination and expose collective relations to what designing is and is becoming. In my final manifestation, I am proposing a discussion activity, supported by an artifact, that facilitates the type of collective conversation that I argue is needed to start to open up to reflecting on our current design program. By facilitating collective discussion around ‘what designing is’ and ‘what designing is becoming’, have prompted more awareness of collective relations to ‘what designing is’.
In this thesis, I argue that failing to alter our design program and continuing to take ‘what designing is’ for granted will prevent interaction design from evolving from what it is, to what it can be, as taking what designing is for granted will lead design practices to merely solidify established ways of doing.
I believe we should be doing the opposite of taking things for granted. I believe we should be actively designing interaction design(ing).